1. Right now—more or less anyway—you are trying to get something done. You’re only reading this listicle because you think it’ll be a quick distraction from whatever it is you’re really trying to get done. It’s okay, I don’t mind. That’s what I’m doing right now, too— I’m writing a listicle as a way of putting off the other writing that I am trying to get done. We’re in this together, mes amis. Read on.
2. You are wringing your hands, but, like, mentally wringing them (unless you’re reading this while doing dishes, which I doubt you are). Mental hand wringing, wrestling with your conscience (with your conscious self) because you know there’s something else you’re trying to get done, and reading this damn listicle only gets in the way of doing that thing. You wish I’d stop pointing it out.
3. You are now, against your better judgement, continuing to read a listicle.
4. You are now trying to remember what the Proust Questionnaire is. You may even search for it, and then be like, “ahh, oh yeah. I remember now.” But let’s be honest. You didn’t remember, did you? You think you remembered, because I said, here, just now, in Item #4 “blah blah blah trying to remember” and that tricked your brain. The brain is so weird! I’ve implanted a false memory in your mind! A false memory of thing you’d falsely forgot! How fucking weird is that?!?!?!?
5. Now you’re pondering. You’re thinking about how the brain works. Your brain is thinking about itself. It’s so meta. And now, for some reason— and, stg, if we could figure this out, I think we could solve the Satisfaction Equation entirely (not the Happiness Problem, mind you, but Satisfaction Equation)—for some reason, thinking about your brain thinking about itself has made you want to check the time.
6. You realize it’s not the time you thought it would be. It may be later, it may be earlier, but you did not estimate the time correctly. You’re not even sure why you checked the time.
7. Now you’re chuckling, because this shit is humourous. Humorous as fuck, motherfuckers. Look at this! I’m pointing out the inanity of modern life! This isn’t just a listicle, it’s a mental cheat sheet for a New York Times thinkpiece with a title like “The 40 Hour Work Week Is A Lie” or “Millennials Are Killing The Work Week” or “Cats & Hats: Achieving Work/Life Balance”. And because you’re reading this quasi-listicle, you’re rewarding whatever part of your brain wants you to read thinkpieces. You’re doing it, Reader! The work week is a lie! You’re peering through the veil! You know the truth! You. Are. Awake. (lol, nah, you’re not “woke”, though; at best you’ve been startled out of a nap and are already nodding your way back to dreamland)
8. Now you’re getting annoyed with Dear Author. You’re annoyed about the parenthetical in Item #7, but you know it’s not chill to admit that, so you’re going to project that annoyance in a kind of vague scattershot. So you’re annoyed because you’re barely halfway down a 15-item listicle and he won’t stop rambling about shit he pretends to know you’re doing, but he doesn’t know your life. That lazy fucking asshole writer. You’re doing stuff, you have job or whatever. You contribute and shit. You’re reading this because you made an active choice. You are in charge. And, yeah, you really did remember what the Proust Questionnaire was— without searching for it!—, so piss off, WriterBoy.
10. You’re wondering what happened to Item #9. You don’t give a fuck, but you’re still wondering.
11. Now you’re doing that thing. You’re doing that self-satisfying smile thing, the one that’s the equivalent to the ::kanji shrug:: but as a smile. You know the one. That in-turned eyebrow, right cheek raised, nostrils-unflared, half smile. Like a meh, but a good one. It’s your bemused yet amused smile. You might even be sighing just a little. You’re feeling—dare we say it—satisfied.
12. You’re feeling finished with this. It’s a little vapid, a little pointless. And now you’re feeling done. You’re scanning down the page and seeing that Beloved Writer didn’t bother to finish their 15-item listicle, and you’re glad. Honestly, so is he. His coffee cup is empty and he needs to go pee. And maybe you do, too. Maybe, like me, you’ll close this tab, push your computer gently away from you, and head to the Little Readers’ Room to do some personal business before getting back to work. Before getting back to that thing you’re trying to get done, before jumping back into the lie that is your work week, trying to fight the desire to fill out the Proust Questionnaire for yourself, to not spend an extra minute looking in the mirror after you pee, trying to figure out which is your bemused and amused smile and which is your regular smile. You’re getting back to work, back to that thing that needs to be done.
Sure thing, Reader.